BaSS Does The Bay (Area, that is)

Associated parks:
None

Monday, September 15, 2003 12:29 PM
Bay Area 2003
Parks Visited: Bonfante Gardens (9/6), SFMW (9/7), Oakland Zoo (9/9)
Weather: Best weather in S.F. EVER!
Crowds: Busy, but manageable

I have a need to visit the Bay Area at least once a year (or more!). There's just something about the city by the bay that intrigues me and calls me back over and over again. Luckily, my wife and kids feel the pull just as much, so it's usually no problem taking one trip a year up there.

This year we wanted to avoid the circus that kid's birthday parties usually are; my kids were born 2 years and 2 days apart, so we always have one big party in early September. We asked them if they wanted to go to Bonfante Gardens instead this year, and they were of course very interested in that! Additionally, my wife would be attending a conference in the city on 9/8 and 9/9, so our hotel rooms and her meals those days would be reimbursed. SO, after driving up on the fifth and checking into the Holiday Inn in Silicon Valley, we found ourselves driving up to Bonfante a little after opening the next morning.

In what was to be a series of good signs for the continued health of the park, the parking lot was more full than it had been during my two visits last year. Many of the people waiting to buy tickets had buy-one-get-one-free coupons, so we were luckily able to hook up with one and saved $50 right off the bat. Good times! The park itself was more crowded than I have ever seen it, but lines were not too bad due to the many things there are to do there. Not much more to say about the park that I didn't say in my two TR's from last year...Their Morgan car ride is still the best of it's type and their Zierer Jr. still has the most back seat air of any junior coaster anywhere!

The only let down of the day was the food service. As opposed to my last visits, food waits were a lot longer, and the food quality seemed to be lower. I ate at the mexican food place and it was nowhere near the quality I had previously experienced at the park. I hope it was just me ordering the wrong thing, and not an indication of a decline in a strong area for the park.

The next morning we ventured up to SFMW. I had wanted to make opening but we were all tired so we elected to arrive around noon. This felt like a mistake when I saw how crowded the lot was, but waits were manageable throughout the park. Like Bonfante, there is a lot of room for people to spread out into, and SFMW also has the people-eating marine shows.

SFMW now features one of the best sky lines anywhere, as the coasters are all clustered around the front and the animal exhibits line the back of the park. I had not been to SFMW since 2000, so V2 and especially Zonga made colorful and attractive additions to the already beautiful sight of Roar, Medusa and Kong coiled around the entry way. However, the coasters would have to wait as we decided to skip past the crowds and head to the animal exhibits first.

As usual, my kids loved seeing the various critters. We especially enjoyed the elephant show, featuring a very talented pachyderm demonstrating some nice tricks. The butterfly exhibit was another highlight. We next took in some of the flats, and I introduced my family to the fun of spraying rapids riders for $.25 a pop. My son soon proved to be a master at taunting his victims before spraying them...that's my boy!

As we finally made it to kiddieland (AKA Loony Tunes Seaport) my wife told me I could go get my credits. Yay, coaster time! Roar had been down on my prior visit so I needed that, V2, and Zonga, prior to rejoining my family and bagging the kiddie coaster. V2 (or V2.1, as I prefer to call it) was first. As all of you know, this is the modified Intamin impulse design, with a long barrel roll in place of the usual vertical twisty tower. I really loved S:UE and it sits just outside of my steel Top Ten. I was anxious to feel what it's like to stop in the middle of a barrel roll. Luckily, the line was short and I was on in a few minutes. The barrel roll is decidedly wierd. Riding near the front, I was stopped upside down the first time, went all the way through the second time, and stopped tilted 90 degrees to the side the third time. I guess I prefer the "traditional" impulse, but going through the barrel roll backwards was pretty damn cool and a flashback to Chiller's backwards barrel roll (albeit a LOT slower).

Roar was next, and I was on in 20 minutes in the back seat. I liked this version better than SFA's, probably due to the Millenium Flyer trains. The bars don't come down on me...they're already there due to my gut, LOL! I decided I like MF's better than PTC's when GCI designs are involved. Don't ask me why. Anyways, Roar was competent, it fulfilled my need for a little wood on the weekend, and I then moved on.

Observing Zonga from Roar's line, I noted a full queue house and single-train operation. I estimated somewhere between 60-90 minutes wait, unless I got lucky with a single-rider opening. However, my luck was even better than that...Zonga went DDM and the station house had cleared almost completely by the time I had exited Roar. I made my way to the front seat queue and got comfortable, admiring both this beautiful coaster and the team of mechanics working on it's braking system.

Order was restored within 20 minutes and I was up for the front seat a few circuits later. I had huge expectations for the ride. Having followed it since it was erected at Astroworld, I was vastly looking forward to experiencing it, but I was also fearful that I was going to get a beating. The OTSR's surprised me in that there was actually a LOT of room in between the pads for my head. I took that as a good sign as we dispatched onto the tire-driven lift.

The lift is steep and winds round to a good view of Vallejo. As we dipped off the lift I braced myself for a rough ride, with my head pushed forward. The first drop is absolutely insane. If anything, it reminds me of the vicious near-vertical drop on the Windstorm model coasters, but longer in the drop and less abusive to the body. Just a fantastic drop. You immediately rise into two vertical loops taken with no pause whatsoever. I think is my favorite inversion(s) anywhere. Rising up into block brake #1, there is a nice airtime pop. A few good drops later and it's time for loop #3, which is at kind of an odd angle and is pretty cool. I got my only headbox of the ride leaving this loop. A few twists and turns more led to loop #4, which has a wierd sideways exit and is hella cool. The ride then hits a heavy trim and limps home to the brake run. All in all, a great ride, one of my favorite loopers anywhere. Go Anton!

Having bagged all three adult coasters in a little over an hour, I returned to kiddieland and my son and I took in Roadrunner Express. This type of kiddie coaster (Zamperla) is my least favorite, as I barely fit in it and it feels like I'm going to break my back on the low seat back. There's always one really hard jolt on these things too. My kid loved it, I hated it, but it's the things we do for credits. We spent the rest of the day at kiddieland and then went through the shark tunnel 3 times prior to heading into the city. Marine World was fun, but the differences between this park and Bonfante really stood out again. I think people would ***** about Six Flags less if their parks didn't REMIND you so quickly that you are IN a Six Flags park. ;-)

Arriving in San Francisco, we made our way to the Park Hyatt. I've made no secret of my love for Priceline over the years, but it really outdid itself this time. This is the nicest hotel I have EVER stayed in, and we got a $700 room for $77! We had a huge room (something rare in S.F.) with a fantastic view of the Bay Bridge and the surrounding skyscrapers of the financial district. I felt like a real tool checking in there in my coaster T-shirt though...making a mental note to change into business casual before I check in if I stay there again, LOL!

Monday the 8th was a conference day for my wife, so the kids and I toured the city. After stopping at Coit Tower for the amazing views, we took the cable car up to the Cable Car Barn/Museum. I had never been there before and it's a fascinating spot. Ever cable for the four cable car lines runs through this building and then out onto each respective route. The machinery is old yet very cool to look at. A nice flashback to the Industrial Age. Next, we decided to walk down from the Barn to Ghiradelli Square. This was a long walk through Chinatown and Nob Hill, but my kids were troopers and it really is the best way to see the city. Finally arriving at the Square we had pizza with a great view of the bay.

Tuesday the 9th was another conference day for my wife. After dropping her off, I loaded the kids up and we went across the bay to Oakland. Ever since the addition of the Tiger Express I had wanted to visit the Oakland Zoo. Don't get me wrong, I love zoos...but add a coaster credit and I am SO THERE! We did the Zoo first and it was fun, with some great monkey exhibits and some cute meerkats. Then it was time for the "rides" section.

The rides area is very small, with about 4 kiddie spin and spews, a long train ride, a carousel, and the kiddie coaster. This section is actually outside the park, so, word to the credit whores, you don't have to pay zoo entry and it's only $2 to get your credit. ;-) Tiger Express was my #248 and is pretty fun for a kiddie, with a nice whip off the first drop. This coaster is not out of the way at all for Bay Area visitors travelling from PGA to SFMW.

Following the Zoo it was back to the city to pick Lisa up, and then the long drive home. Once again the Bay Area provided a reliable good time. They may not have the best when it comes to any coaster type, but what they have is fun, unique, and the city of San Francisco is something everyone should see at least once in their lifetime. Can't wait to go back!

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Mike Miller - On the gravy train to coaster nirvana

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Monday, September 15, 2003 12:40 PM
Bass is back!

Nice TR Mike. Glad you guys had a great trip.

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Monday, September 15, 2003 1:19 PM
Great TR, Mike. Glad you are settled in enough to enjoy the weekend coaster riding. Hell, I'm still painting... STILL!

Will we meet at PPP? :)
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Rob - Jerk/Loser - Standing up for the unfunny and unattractive. - Click here for details

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Monday, September 15, 2003 1:31 PM

nasai said:


Will we meet at PPP? :)
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Rob - Jerk/Loser - Standing up for the unfunny and unattractive. - Click here for details


Nope, Rob. I wish, but my 10-day trip in June pretty much exhausted any hopes of going anywhere else the rest of the year, LOL! You guys will have plenty of fun without me.

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Mike Miller - Looking at a return to Phun Phesting in 2004

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Monday, September 15, 2003 2:34 PM
I think I saw you at Marine World... were you wearing a Beast shirt?

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-Parker
www.SFMWZone.com

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Monday, September 15, 2003 2:40 PM
Nope. I was wearing a Talon shirt. Were you there on 9/7? I saw a number of people that looked like enthusiasts, including a group of 4 wearing ACE shirts.

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Mike Miller

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Monday, September 15, 2003 2:50 PM
What!!!

No Medusa :(

Anyhoot, glad you had fun in Frisco. The City has charm....I am especially in love with Pier 39/Fisherman's wharf. I was one of the fools who was frightened by the bush man.....I even did a Mariah Carey scream. I think they had me on camera :)

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Lyrically, I'm supposed to represent
I'm not only a client, I'm the playa president!

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Monday, September 15, 2003 2:57 PM

Antuan said:
What!!!

No Medusa :(

Anyhoot, glad you had fun in Frisco. The City has charm....I am especially in love with Pier 39/Fisherman's wharf. I was one of the fools who was frightened by the bush man.....I even did a Mariah Carey scream. I think they had me on camera :)

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Lyrically, I'm supposed to represent
I'm not only a client, I'm the playa president!


Well, I rode Medusa back in 2000, and I had my kids with me, who are too small to ride. I'm not the biggest floorless fan, either, although Medusa West is a good one.

I enjoy Pier 39 also, we went there Monday night and had dinner at the Hard Rock. However, I think Fisherman's Wharf has gotten kind of tacky (especially with the crappy stores across the street). It's unfortunately lost some of it's charm.

The Bush Man scared the hell out of me last year; I almost tossed him in the water, LOL! This year I was across the street from him and I filmed him scaring people. He scared these three girls who did great Mariah Carey-esque screams! What a kook.

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Mike Miller

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Monday, September 15, 2003 5:56 PM
I don't usually wear a coaster related shirt... that day I just had my still camera in my hand.

As for the rides at *my* ;) park, I'm glad you enjoyed them. The entrance to the park always seems to be a little crowded with people, but many of them are families wanting to see shows. I almost never wait more than 4 trains for V2.

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-Parker
www.SFMWZone.com

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Tuesday, September 16, 2003 8:18 PM
Ooh...I love shooting the sprays at people on rapids rides, too. Fun TR, BaSS...welcome back! :)
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Wednesday, September 17, 2003 7:24 AM
Guess who's back, back again....guess who's back....

Hey bASS, good to see ya! Glad you had a good trip with the wife and kids....looks like I'm gonna have to keep travelling to stay ahead of ya though...;)

Weird that you didn't stop at PGA, the red-headed step-child of the Paramount chain...;). From ALL that I've heard, Bonfante was the better option...

edit #1: gotta get back to that *other* bay sometime soon, maybe next year? The REAL bay, BTW, is the Chesapeake...;)

edit #2: The bush man scared the **** outta me as well, he earned his tip...:)
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"Ju-ju-just like the bad guy, from Lethal Weapon 2, I've got diplomatic immunity, so Hammer you can't sue, can't touch me...." The Peter Griffin Rap
*** This post was edited by rollergator 9/17/2003 11:30:20 AM ***

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Wednesday, September 17, 2003 1:13 PM

rollergator said:
Guess who's back, back again....guess who's back....

Hey bASS, good to see ya! Glad you had a good trip with the wife and kids....looks like I'm gonna have to keep travelling to stay ahead of ya though...;)

Weird that you didn't stop at PGA, the red-headed step-child of the Paramount chain...;). From ALL that I've heard, Bonfante was the better option...

edit #1: gotta get back to that *other* bay sometime soon, maybe next year? The REAL bay, BTW, is the Chesapeake...;)

edit #2: The bush man scared the **** outta me as well, he earned his tip...:)
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"Ju-ju-just like the bad guy, from Lethal Weapon 2, I've got diplomatic immunity, so Hammer you can't sue, can't touch me...." The Peter Griffin Rap
*** This post was edited by rollergator 9/17/2003 11:30:20 AM ***


I wanted to go back to PGA, but there was no room in the schedule and all of the parks were closed during the week. Plus, no new credits to be had at PGA...they keep taking away, not adding! I've ridden more now-defunct/moved coasters there than anywhere else!!

Oh, and you <are> going to have to keep travelling...I miscounted, Tiger Express was #249. If only we had gotten on PKD's Taxi Jam or that other kiddie at Coney, T.E. could have been my #250!! Now I'll have to wait til next year... ;-(


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Mike Miller - Con-Quest 2003 pictures now available at http://photos.yahoo.com/bassistist

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